Department of Economics

John Friedman's New Research on College Admissions

Today, John Friedman's lab, Opportunity Insights, released new research on admissions practices at highly selective, private "Ivy-Plus" colleges, how these schools affect graduates' income and leadership outcomes, and what changes to admissions policies could mean for diversifying America's leaders. 

In the new paper, Diversifying Society’s Leaders? The Determinants and Causal Effects of Admission to Highly Selective Private Colleges, authors Raj ChettyDavid Deming, and John Friedman find that certain admissions practices provide children from high-income families substantial admissions advantages over students from middle- and lower-income families with comparable academic credentials. Furthermore, attendance at an Ivy-Plus college dramatically shifts children’s life trajectories, giving them far greater chances of earning in the top 1% of the income distribution and holding prestigious positions and leadership roles. While Ivy-Plus colleges educate a small share of students and therefore cannot change rates of social mobility at scale, these impacts underscore the outsize role these schools have on shaping society’s leaders. By shifting their admissions policies, Ivy-Plus colleges could meaningfully diversify the socioeconomic origins of society’s leaders and bring new perspectives and backgrounds to those who have great influence on the lives of many others. 

The AtlanticNPRThe New York Timesand others published stories this morning on this research. To access these and other media coverage on the paper, visit their press page.